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About Belarus

The Republic of Belarus is a country located in the Eastern Europe (28-32° east longitude, 51-55° north latitude) with the territory of 207,6 thousand square km. Officially, the country is known as the Republic of Belarus (Belarusian: РэспублікаБеларусь, Łacinka: Respublika Biełaruś; Russian: РеспубликаБеларусь, Respublika Belarus), while the short name is Belarus (Беларусь, Biełaruś, Беларусь). The earlier name "Belorussia" (Белоруссия) can still be found in use, although mainly in historical contexts. 

 

Interesting facts about Belarus

  • Belarus borders with Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Ukraine. 
  • 43% of the Belarusian territory is agricultural land, 39% is occupied by forests, 2% lakes and rivers, 16% other lands. The total length of 20.800 rivers in Belarus is 90,6 thousand km. There are over 10.000 lakes in Belarus.
  • The religion in Belarus – the most common religion in the country is Christianity. Christians of Belarus confess: Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Uniatism, Protestantism. Judaism and Islam are among the other most common religions.
  • The official languages in Belarus are Belarusian and Russian.
  • The capital of Belarus is Minsk and other important cities include Brest, Hrodna (Grodno), Homel (Gomel'), Mahilyow (Mogilev) and Vitsebsk (Vitiebsk).
  • Telephone code +375.
  • Cultureof Belarus has ancient roots, which dates back to the time of settlement of Slavic tribes. The unique identity of Belarusian culture developed over centuries. Belarusian music, painting and folk costume absorbed not only the traditions and beliefs of the Slavs but also many other nations with whom were neighbors Belarusians. Among them heavily influenced made Baltic tribes. In the Middle Ages a great influence on the culture of Belarus has made its entry in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and later the Polish - Lithuanian Union. Under the influence of Rzeczpospolita Belarusian culture was enriched by new features in painting, music, architecture. Also Catholicism got a quite widespread in this period among the population of Belarus.

 

Practical Information

Local currency: Belarusian ruble (Br).                                                                                                                             

Time Differences: + 2 hours from Greenwich Time (GMT + 02:00).

http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/belarus/minsk

Electric Power Voltage:Belarus’s electrical current is 220-240 Volts (50 Hertz). Electrical sockets (outlets) in Belarus are one of the two European standard electrical socket types: the "Type C" Europlug and the "Type E" and "Type F" Schuko. If your appliance's plug doesn't match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance's plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into. If it's crucial to be able to plug in no matter what, bring an adapter for all three types.

Weather: Belarusian climate – is moderate continental, is influenced by air masses of the Atlantic. The hottest month is July, the coldest one is January. The month of October is characterized by rapidly falling daily high temperatures, with daily highs decreasing from 14°C to 6°C over the course of the month, exceeding 19°C or dropping below 1°C only one day in ten. 

http://www.wunderground.com/

 

In case of emergency

101 and 112 - Fire brigade

102 - Police

103 - Ambulance

107, 135, 152 - Taxi

175 - Currency exchange rates

 

Useful links

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus: 

http://mfa.gov.by/en/

Weather information: 

http://www.timeanddate.com/weather/belarus/minsk

Map of Belarus: 

http://www.belarus.by/en/

 

About Minsk

Minsk, the capital of Belarus, is a modern metropolis. Many of its museums, theaters and other cultural attractions stand along Independence Avenue (Praspyekt Nyezalyezhnastsi), a wide, 15km-long thoroughfare terminating by the vast Independence Square. Top sights of Minsk are presented below.

 

Minsk City Hall

The history of Minsk City Hall is directly connected with the Magdeburg right that was granted to the city in 1499 by the Lithuanian grand duke Alexander (1461-1506). Minsk got the right to create its own institution of self-government - a city council, for the sessions of which the building of the City Hall was constructed. The stone building of the City Hall was built in 1582 instead of a wooden one. It stood on the territory of the Upper market, in the middle of the Cathedral square (Freedom square). During military conflicts the City Hall was repeatedly destroyed, but each time inhabitants of Minsk restored their symbol of the city. In the building of the City Hall at various times there was the court, a police station, a guardroom, an archive instead of the city council. In 1830 there was a musical school here and in 1847 - theatre.

Unfortunately, time and historical shocks didn't keep the building of the City Hall for us, but there are pictures and drawings left according to which in 2003 Minsk City Hall was restored as a symbol of city old times and traditions of the European sovereign city. The height of the City Hall's tower is 32 meters; there are clocks on its four sides with diameter of 1.2 meters each. On the first floor there is a hall for meetings and reception for guests of honour. On the ground floor you can find the museum of Minsk that tells about the history and sights of the city. The grand opening of the City Hall took place on the 4th of November 2004.

 

The Holy Spirit Cathedral

The building of the cathedral in baroque style was constructed in 1633-1642 as the main temple of Catholic Bernadine convent. During the XVIII-XIX cc. the temple and the convent had been reconstructed before they look the present architectural shape. In 1852 the convent was closed, and its sisters were sent to Nesvizh town. In I860 the former monastic temple was turned into the Orthodox Church. After ten years an orthodox monastery was opened here.

In 1918, after the closing of the monastery, the building was used for various purposes: as a sports hall, a transit prison for the dispossessed peasants. The services were renewed during WW II, in 1943. Now the Holy Spirit Cathedral is the Cathedral of Minsk. The most valuable relic is the wonder-working icon of Mother of God found in 1500. The other relic of the temple is imperishable relics of St. Sofia of Slutsk, a granddaughter of Anastasia of Sluck.

 

The National Library of Belarus

The new building of the National Library of Belarus is located in a northeast part of the city in a green zone. The building represents itself a rhomb-cube-octahedron of 72.6 m height (20 floors) and weights 115 000 tons without books). The area of the building is 19.5 thousand m2, a total area of the building is 112.6 thousand m2, including a book-depository - 54.9 thousand m2. The modern library is not only reading rooms with information search catalogues, but also social and cultural center with a multipurpose conference hall, a place for business meetings and negotiations, a musical-art hall and art galleries. Access of the removed users to resources of the National library of Belarus is provided by the Internet-portal. Owing to the portal the library is present in the global network all around the clock 365 days per year, thus, the National library of Belarus becomes the global center of information resources.

 

Church of St. Магу the Virgin

In the historical past Roman Catholic Archicathedral Church of St. Mary the Virgin was the main element of the Jesuit collegium ensemble which was in formation during the XVII-XVIII cc. Jesuits appeared in Minsk in the middle of the XVII c. In 1654 they started the creation of a monumental-architectural complex. The central place was taken by a Jesuit church (construction of 1700-1710). In 1798 the church became cathedral; after 1820 it was renamed into St. Mary's Cathedral. For a long time the Jesuit church was the highest building in Minsk.

After the war the building of the church was reconstructed for the House of physical culture. In 1990 the church was returned to believers. It's situated near the orthodox Cathedral, which proves religious tolerance that has been a typical feature of Belarus for ages.

 

Catholic Church of SS Simeon and Helena

Catholic Church of SS Simeon and Helena is a temple-memorial of the beginning of the XX c. Neo-gothic church of a red brick is erected in memory of untimely died children of a land owner Edward Woynilowicz. Asymmetric configuration of volumes, active and unexpected spatial findings connect the Red church with modernism. Besides, the silhouette, apertures, decorative zones and other components have motives of a Romance style. The church was consecrated in 1910. After the October revolution the Red church was adapted for the State Polish theatre of BSSR. After World War II the building was reconstructed and passed to the film studio «Soviet Belarus». In 1975 the House of cinema was placed there: two halls with 250 seats and a museum of cinematography in the high tower. In 1990 the structure was returned to the believers. In 1996 the bronze sculptural composition «Archangel Michael» was installed in front of the church.

 

Niezalezhnasci (Independence) Square

Niezalezhnasci (Independence) Square occupies 7 hectares and is the biggest square in Europe. The area of Independence square was built up from the end of the 19th c. Among the constructions of those times there kept a Catholic Church of SS Simeon and Helena, profitable houses No.17 and No.19 on Savieckaja Street.

The ensemble of Independence square was started to be formed in the 1930s. Now it includes Government House, the main building of the Belarusian State University, which stylistically goes in harmony with Government House, the engineering building of Minsk Metro with a small tower above the entrance, a building of Minsk City Council. The building of the Belarusian State Pedagogical University finished the ensemble. In spite of different years of construction of the buildings there is a certain composite unity in them.

Under Independence Square the underground shopping center «Stalica» (the Capital) is situated on 4 levels with a total area of 83 thousand m2. In the shopping center there are manufactured goods shops and food shops from 30 up to 1320 square m in size; booths of remote trade of 12,3 sq. m; cafes, fast food restaurants, bars; services centers, banks branches, video stores. The place for bowling with 16 paths is planned as well as a billiard club and other objects for children and adults entertainment. A huge plus of the shopping centre «Stalica» is its closeness to the metro, to the largest transport highways - Niezalezhnasci (Independence) Avenue, Niamiha Street, railway station.

 

SS Peter and Paul Church

SS Peter and Paul Church is one of the first stone buildings, constructed on a narrow street Rakauskaja and remained up till now as a monument of architecture of the XVII c. for two centuries it was the only orthodox temple in the city. The building was started in 1611 and was finished after two years. During wars and religious conflicts the church served as a fortress. It explains the thickness of its walls, a high arrangement of windows above the ground and presence of loopholes. In 1795 in the church there was Minsk Cathedral named after Russian empress Ekaterina, who gave money for reorganization. In the middle of the XIX c. during the restoration the temple got some features of pseudo-Russian style. From 1991 services in church are renewed. The church is a monument of an early baroque with elements of the Renaissance style.

 

Rakauskaje Suburb

Not each inhabitant of Minsk can show where this silent and cozy corner of the old city is. Located in the very center of Minsk, Rakauskaje suburb hides behind monotonous facades of modern multi-storey houses which separate it from the other part of the old (Lower) city. Here, on right bank of the river Niamiha, in the XII c. a trading-craft street with the Market area is formed. Peter and Paul Church, Resurrection Church and a complex of Carmelite monastery also appeared here. At the beginning of the XX c. some the industrial enterprises appeared here. The most well-known were wall-paper factories of Shifmanovich and Epstein. Their production was sold abroad.

Today Rakauskaje suburb located between Niamiha street and Jubilejnaja square not only keeps the charm of old times, but also recreates the new shape of the historical center convenient for rest, slow conversations and walks. Cosy, original reastaurants and cafes with national cuisine and a non-standard atmosphere, such as «Rakovsky Brovar», «Talaka», «Po-Chekhovu».

 

The Upper Town

Since the 16th century the Upper Town has been the center of Minsk. On its territory there were the Upper market, The City Hall, churches, monasteries, synagogues, residences of rich people and aristocrats. Despite numerous wars and destructions which pursued Minsk all history long, the historical lay-out of the streets and quarters of the Upper town has not practically changed, many unique monuments of architecture of different epoch and styles managed to survive. The ensemble of the Upper town includes Svabody (Freedom) Square, Revalucyjnaja street, Hiercena street, Kiryly i Miafodzija street, Internacyjanalnaja street, the Muzycny lane, a part of the streets of Engels and Kamsamolskaja. The Holy Spirit Cathedral, St. Joseph's Church and Roman Catholic Archicathedral Church of St. Mary the Virgin are unique monuments of architecture of the Belarus baroque.

 

Opera and Ballet Theatre

National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre is the only building (No.l) in Commune of Paris square, located on a hill, among the shady green of the park. The largest market in Minsk used to be situated here on Troitskaya mountain. One could buy here everything what the Belarusian land is rich in.

The building designed by the architect Joseph Langbard in the Soviet constructivism stile, was intended as a universal construction of a «mass musical action» which would seat 3 thousand people. The hall was planned as an amphitheater, as in the Roman circus. The fantastic idea had to be changed a little: volumes on the enormous base were compressed; the auditorium was decreased up to 1500 seats. The building erected in 1935-1937, seems understated comparing to the plan. The theatre survived the war; in 1948 the building was restored under the direction of the author. The amphitheater disappeared, the hall got the traditional form - an orchestra and three superficial circles, and the number of seats was decreased up to 1200. At the beginning of the 1960s instead of flat coverings there appeared a hump of a pitched roof.

 

Information about Minsk

http://www.belarus.by/en/